Priorities & Lessons from the Garden

EllieI don’t like to work when I ‘m not in the mood. I like to be inspired all of the time. However, choosing to work only when I feel like it invites progress to become coated with layers of other projects and a relentless wish that it would simply all go away. Like weeds in the garden.

A deadline is posted on my calendar and stares at me. I need to buy more computer ink. However, I forget all about the ink when I see bags of mulch stacked in lovely piles at the entrance of the store. I buy lots of it … mulch, not ink.

I had lots of excuses to avoid the garden and the writing deadline. Then there’s the truth: I felt overwhelmed. Fortunately, I remembered Raymond Le Blanc’s words from Time Management Tips, Tools & Techniques. He said, “If you do not take small steps to discipline yourself today, you will not be disciplined tomorrow.”

Overwhelm is usually the direct result of allowing wait-I’ll-do-it-later moments to pile up until they form a metaphorical log jam in my head. Le Blanc suggested that one of the most effective ways to combat overwhelm is to compile a list of all the things that need to be done. Next to each item on the list, one should write down excuses (which are what they are) for not completing each task. Next to each excuse, describe the advantages of completing each task, and consider, “Does it really make sense? Are these excuses being emphasized by benefits? Are the benefits really that important and enough to make you stick to your excuses?”

Mark Twain used a frog as a metaphor for the things we least wanted to do. “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning,” he suggested. “And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Motivational author and speaker, Brian Tracy, grounded the premise of his book, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating, on Twain’s advice. Tracy insists, “The ability to concentrate singlemindedly on your most important task, to do it well and finish it completely, is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status, and happiness in life.”

Your most powerful tools of focus lie within your personal purpose statement, dream, vision, and mission. Gordon D’Angelo, author of Vision: Your Pathway to Victory, describes a vision statement as “the definable intention from which preparation is formed.”  Jennell Evans, CEO of Strategic Interactions, Inc., defined a vision as an “optimal desired future state – the mental picture – of what an [individual or] organization wants to achieve over time.” In contrast, she said a mission statement “defines a present state or purpose” of an individual or organization. Evans explained that mission statements addressed (1) what an individual or organization does, (2) who it does it for, and (3) how it does what it does. David Ladner added that personal vision and mission statements were reflections of an individual’s beliefs and core values; becoming “the standard by which you measure everything else in your life.”

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, insisted that vision and mission statements are “more powerful more significant, more influential, than the baggage of the past, or even the accumulated noise of the present. “ Clear vision and mission statements ground you with purpose and provide you with clear direction. They are reflections of and deeply connected to your core values.

In my book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, I explain how your personal vision and mission guide the words you speak, decisions you make, goals you create, and events you include into your daily schedule. When your goals flow from your mission and vision statements, you choose activities that align with your core values and purpose. You are less likely to waste your own time.

 Before your busy day rolls out, it is important to ask yourself, “Do my tasks align with my vision and mission statements?” If they do, they become part of the goals of the week. If not, postpone them until after you complete your most important tasks.

When you’ve taken the time to prioritize, you allow time to complete other tasks … like gardening.  But, right now, if I truly mean what I say and say what I mean when I declare a committed desire to “inspire others with a process, tools, and support to transform dreams into spectacular realities”  in my personal mission statement, then it is time to return to the task of writing. Going to the store and looking at bags of mulch was also an important task; it allowed me enough time to step away from my passion (writing) to get a fresh perspective and align myself with what I value most and what I hope to accomplish.

Albert Einstein said, “Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” With this thought in mind, I reread my affirmation for the day:

I open my hands, my mind, and my heart to success. Lucrative opportunities always come my way. Spectacular ideas flow to me in a river of abundance.

I pick up my pen.

And all is well.

What are your priorities?

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